Eldorado Gold board okays Skouries gold-copper project restart

Construction at Skouries. (Image courtesy of Eldorado Gold.)

Canada’s Eldorado Gold (TSX: ELD)(NYSE: EGO) said the board has approved an investment decision and full restart of construction activities at its Skouries gold-copper project in northern Greece.

The proposed mine, which has reserves of 3.7 million ounces of gold and 1.7 billion pounds of copper, was halted from 2017 to 2021 due to government delays in issuing permits and community opposition

After inking a new investment contract with Greece in early 2021, Eldorado has been focused on resuming construction at Skouries, but said the project restart was conditional upon the initial drawdown of a €680-million ($728m) finance facility from Greek banks.

The funds will provide 80% of the expected future investment required to complete the half-built Skouries project. The remaining 20% of project funding will be fully covered by Eldorado’s existing cash and future cash flow from operations, the company said.

“Skouries represents the next phase of growth at Eldorado, generating significant value for all of our stakeholders with robust project economics and providing many benefits to the local communities and economy in Greece,” chairperson Steve Reid said in the statement.

President and CEO George Burns said that having the involvement of Greek banks in the project supplied backing beyond financials.

“The participation of Greek lenders in the project provides aligned strategic partners as we advance Skouries towards commercial production,” Burns said. Eldorado’s focus now shifts to project execution, with first production expected in the second half of 2025, followed by a ramp-up as the company optimizes facilities.

Once that it’s up and running Skouries is expected to have a significant impact on Eldorado’s total gold production and cash cost profile, as it will diversify the company’s business through revenue from copper. 

Eyeing growth

In 2021, Eldorado completed key growth projects at two of its assets — the Lamaque mine in Val d’Or, Quebec, and Kışladağ gold mine in Turkey.

“Our mergers and acquisitions strategy is focused on jurisdictions where we currently operate,” the company said at the time. “This includes developing our Skouries and Perama Hill projects in Greece, which will contribute to the longer-term growth of Eldorado, as well as identifying early-stage opportunities that provide long-term growth potential in our core jurisdictions.”

Eldorado scales down operations at Lamaque mine in Quebec
Lamaque is the company’s first gold mine in Canada. (Image courtesy of Eldorado Gold.)

In February, Eldorado published a new technical study for its Lamaque mine, its first gold mine in Canada, which highlights a significant upside potential from the Lower Triangle zones and Ormaque deposit.

The company has determined that there is potential to extend the mine life for about 5.5 years from the Upper Triangle reserves and additional 8.5 years from Lower Triangle deposit and Ormaque inferred resources.

Part of the Kassandra Mines Complex, Skouries has an anticipated operational life of 20 years, producing an aggregate of 140,000 ounces of gold and 67 million pounds of copper annually.

The deposit is planned to be mined using a combination of conventional open pit and underground mining techniques, Eldorado said.